Content provided by Western Red Cedar Lumber Association
(ARA) - Brisk mornings and crisp evenings, long shadows and a quicker-to-fade sun all say it's time to store garden tools and hoses, tidy up the shrubs -- and winterize your home's wooden outdoor structures.
Caring for decks, gazebos and pergolas, often made of Western red cedar, should be a regular part of the fall checklist. Routine maintenance like removing seasonal and ornamental pots and plants, cleaning the wood of dirt and other debris, and getting rid of mold and mildew can be done easily in a weekend.
"Many people choose Western red cedar because of the natural durability and beauty of the wood," says Paul Mackie, or "Mr. Cedar" as he's known in the Western Red Cedar Lumber Association. "Preparing your outdoor living structure for winter is an important step to help maintain that beauty."
Properly preparing wooden yard structures for winter protects them in much the same way as winterizing plants and water features and helps maintain their original appearance. Western red cedar contains natural preservatives that make the wood very durable and basic maintenance relatively simple. A broom and a garden sprayer, a little bleach and a hose are all that are needed.
Winterizing the deck
Start with the deck. Inspect it for buildups of dirt, water and pollen, and sweep it clean of debris the way you would with any wood, plastics, composite or cement surface. Take special care to clean between the planks and boards of horizontal surfaces so water can drain and air can flow between the boards. Reducing standing water and increasing airflow will limit the amount of moisture that can collect and stay on the surface of the plank.
Get rid of mold, mildew
Killing mold and mildew is another important piece of deck maintenance in wetter climates, particularly for materials that have rough textures such as composite decks. Mackie recommends a simple solution of three parts water and one part oxygen bleach applied with a simple garden sprayer. Rinsing the treated areas with clean water once the solution is applied should eliminate mold and mildew.
Don't pressure-wash wood, says Mackie, because "you can make it look like your grandfather's corduroy pants." Pressure-washing also can disrupt Western red cedar's natural moisture resistance by forcibly pushing water into the wood. If you just can't resist using your pressure-washer, keep it below 800 pounds per square inch.
Empty and store planters
Many outdoor living spaces are decorated with planter pots and boxes. Setting and leaving planters directly on surfaces can stain the wood. Moisture accumulates below the planter, leaving insufficient airflow for the moisture to dry.
The Web site realcedar.org, recommends people remove dirt from pots and planter boxes in early fall and store them in a covered area until spring. If moving the planters is not possible, it is especially important during the cold, wet months to elevate them from the surface with planks that will allow moisture to more easily evaporate without the benefit of the hot summer sun. Adequate airflow keeps the area drier and allows Western red cedar's natural preservatives to preserve the wood.
Care for gazebos, siding
Check gazebos and pergolas, as well as any wooden siding on the house itself, for dirt, mold and mildew. Clean away any dirt, and treat the siding or structures with the oxygenated bleach solution if needed.
Water, pollen and mold tend to collect and sit on horizontal surfaces throughout the spring and summer. Left over the winter, they become a harmful cocktail that can speed up the deterioration of otherwise healthy lumber.
Preparing an outdoor structure is simple and well worth the minimal time invested. Following the easy steps is a sure formula to protect your wooden structures during the winter and maintaining their natural beauty for years to come.
Courtesy of ARAcontent